We have just passed our 21-day milestone in Turkey, which myth has it is the time span it takes for a new habit to form. Whether you believe this is true or not is beside the point, but the key is that it does take some time to adapt to a new social or professional setting, form patterns of getting through the day in a new place, and establish yourself within your new team and community. It’s starting to feel familiar being in Ankara as we have more confidence with the language, can order in restaurants with relative confidence, have a set workday pattern, and connect with our broader team members in the evenings to catch up on our experiences that day. We find ourselves referring to our hotel as “home” when coming back from work or a weekend away, and our small SSC team has become our family away from our respective ones back home. We all have the strange feeling of finally feeling settled into our life in Ankara but just in time for us to have to start preparing to return back home.
We were sitting in our weekly SSC “staff” meeting the other day and someone mentioned “I can’t believe we’re about to head home!” and the rest of us exclaimed “No, don’t say it we’re not ready to think about that yet!” As we’re beginning our final week in Turkey, it’s impossible not to feel like we’re trying to hold on to every second trying to make it last a little longer, all the while wondering how the past three weeks have flown by so quickly.
When we first applied to the SSC program, the thought of spending one month away from our daily roles and responsibilities at work and home seemed like a very long time. Now, after spending three weeks working for Doğa Derneği (and the other two groups with their clients) we all keep thinking how we wish we had more time in Turkey because a month flies by unbelievably fast and there’s so much more we want to do for our clients.
This week has been exciting and frantic as we continue executing towards our deliverables and prepare for our final presentation. As most of us are consulting for the first time there’s a constant feeling there is more we can do and trying to be realistic about the time and resource constraints we actually have feels like the enemy. This week has been full of hard work, long hours, teamwork, and the strange feeling of starting to say goodbye as we near the end of our stay. Friday was supposed to be the last day in the office for Ayşe, one of our main contacts at Doğa, and this was our first significant goodbye. It was a touching and unforgettable afternoon of conversation over Turkish coffee and Ayşe read our fortunes eerily accurately from our coffee grounds. It was extremely difficult to say goodbye, but Ayşe had a knowing look in her eyes when she said “It’s not goodbye, it’s ‘see you soon’” because she’s convinced that we will meet again soon in the future. As much as we hope that is true, there are many people, places, and experiences that we have to say goodbye to for good and after a month of this being our home and our own little universe, it’s really difficult to do so. We even have to say goodbye in a way to Team Bird, because even though we all work on the same campus, we probably will never work this closely together again. Our experience here has been challenging, exciting, and unforgettable and as difficult as it is to say goodbye, we will cherish the memories that will stay with us for years to come.